Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Bridget Rose Nolan
As a social problem, the term school prayer refers to the controversy surrounding the presence or absence of religious practices in U.S. public schools. The debate over the appropriateness of prayer in public schools stems from the “establishment clause” of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This clause is commonly interpreted to mean that U.S. society should feature a “separation of church and state,” though this term does not appear in the Constitution and was coined later by Thomas Jefferson in his private correspondence. The ...